Archive for the ‘Cons’ Category

heading home – day 1

August 23rd, 2015 Comments off

Which should give you the basic idea that it is not as simple as it sounds. Today is the last day of WorldCon. Noah and I helped set up Registration this morning. It was quickly obvious that we had more people than we needed. There wasn’t anything on the program that really caught my attention so we headed back to the Staff Den and pitched in.

Several dozen scrubbed pans later, Noah moved his hands from the dish water and pitched in on packing. I turned in my towel (hand, bath, whatever was available for the moment) and helped first with the breakfast, then lunch set up.  With a flight earlier than his – I headed to the airport about noon, willing to be bored there rather than at the hotel given that there was a “business center” where I could sit out of traffic, relax and use the free wifi.

The smoke from the forest fires has played havoc on air transportation in the region. Added to the runway maintenance under way in Seattle it meant that flights were a bit delayed. Once again I was impressed by Alaska. They are organized, rapid loading of plane and we actually made up time on the way to Seattle. Even more amazing was the fact that passengers actually let those who had short connections off first. Seriously – the average plane has everyone pushing and shoving to get off. Here – people who had longer connections or were local waited till those who were panicked looking were off the plane and on their way.

Picked up my bag, headed to the van area, handed the driver the luggage and got on the van. 20 minutes later I was in bed and heading for slumber.

Categories: Cons, Travel Tags:

Interesting Hugos

August 22nd, 2015 2 comments

I have mentioned before that the Hugo’s were going to be interesting this year. (the final list is here)A controversy exploded fueled by a couple of groups who felt that the Hugo’s were being nominated and rammed through the system by “persons with agendas.”

From my point of view, I can respect the opinions of anyone who wants to write/read a certain kind of science fiction/fantasy. What I can’t respect is an unwillingness to allow others the same choice.

In reality, science fiction/fantasy is no longer the bastion of the geeky guy with “no one with cooties allowed.” The first changes literally to the face of SciFi weren’t recognized by many. They started in 1975 with the publication of Ursula Le Guin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness” which deliberately dealt with the issues of gender identification and conflict of cultures.

Since then, women have become increasingly both fans and authors. It isn’t just vampires and it is not romance. Both fantasy and hard science fiction have expanded beyond being the bastion of white males. Personally, I like having a variety of authors and perspectives from which to chose. Not everyone feels the same way and let us just leave it at that. The end result this year is that there were categories in which the nominations had been “stuffed” but when it came to the final vote, many of those entries just weren’t high enough quality to win.

Back to Discworld

Death today –


One of the Wee Free Men got loose


Nanny Ogg made an appearance

and finally – the sign in front of some of the most fantastic hats I have seen in a long time….


Categories: Cons Tags:


August 21st, 2015 Comments off

For those of you who don’t know anything about science fiction – Sir Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld series, died in March of this year. Not old at all he was 66. Pratchett had early onset Alzheimers. He was very open about it, made a lot of appearances and campaigned for research. The Wiki is quite good, accurate and avoids being overly fawning. I had the privilege of meeting Sir Terry at Glasgow in 2005. Unlike a certain number of authors, he was an incredibly nice human being.

One of our community (John Kentner) is in the process of producing a film which he has funded through Kickstarter to document the effect that Pratchett and Discworld have had on people’s lives.

The Discworld Exhibit is in the main hall:

where you can be greeted by Venari

where you can be greeted by Venari

learn the basics of washing things

learn the basics of washing things

Think about wearing an apron  sponsored by "Cut me own throat" Dibbler

Think about wearing an apron sponsored by “Cut me own throat” Dibbler

Death going to a party

Death going to a party

Making Money

Making Money

For the Librarians (Yes, Pat, Ann, Linda – I do mean you….)



The Luggage

Teeth, and feet

Teeth, and feet

the Luggage

the Luggage

Sgt Cherry

Sgt Cherry

Outside of the Exhibit – I found

Noah hanging with a dragon

Noah hanging with a dragon

And posted at all outside doors…

and reality of the outside air quality

and reality of the outside air quality

Our evening ended with the Masquerade and a concert by Tom Smith. I didn’t last till the award presentations. 2300+ is way past my bedtime on any continent.

Categories: Cons Tags:

Smoke gets in your eyes

August 19th, 2015 Comments off


We are not all that far from the wildfires. I think most of us could give up the spectacular sunrises and sunsets in favor of thousands less burning acres of land and forest.

As this is the opening day of the Con, we expected a large number of people to show up at reg to claim their badges.

And we got hammered. The line was there at the 0900 start and it took until about 1500 before the insanity stopped. Over 2400 picked up their badges, including new registrants. With mostly six but sometimes eight computers up, it was a lot of people standing in front of me. Someone who is pre-registered takes almost no time unless they want to update everything we have on them. But a new registration requires data entry and money collection. And that takes more than a minutes or two.

But I have to admit, this is the way I get to see Mike Resnick, Connie Willis, P.C. Hodgell, Larry Niven, Michelle Sagara, Brandon Sanderson and a host of other authors.  Yes, everyone stands in line to pick up their badges. Famous authors, not so famous scribblers, artists, normal fans, lots of kids-in-tow and the occasional stuffed toy.


Categories: Cons Tags:

Move – in

August 18th, 2015 Comments off

There are two intensive work periods associated with conventions that are labor intensive but rarely seen by attendees. Affectionately or not so affectionately known by the moniker MI-MO the front half is MoveIn which means the ending half is MoveOut. World Con is entirely volunteer organized and run. That means that in the run up to a convention there is a core group of people putting in a lot of time and effort. Once the doors open at the location where the Con is to be held, the need for people drastically increases as the physical tasks start to mount up.

This morning I spent a significant time early (before the sun came up and sunrise) trying to figure out the nearest US Post Office Location. According to Google – there was one at 421 W Riverside as well as one down somewhere in the 500-600 block.

Wrong. 421 Riverside is a tattoo and piercing parlor so I think that whomever submitted those addresses really needs a new pair of glasses. Finally, I decided to believe the map I had rather than the Internet and found the main post office at – you guessed it – between 500 and 600 – on Riverside. Better yet? Even side of the street. It opened at 0800. By 0730 I was checked out of the Red Lion, luggage dropped off at the Double Tree and on my way down the sidewalk again to mail packages. New York City, Chicago and Georgia this time.

From then on, it was somewhere around madness and chaos. I put time into Registration, loading dock, and exhibits. When Noah arrived from the airport, he dropped off his luggage and came over; being put to directly to work. By about 1830 I was the walking stupid. We had opened up reg at 1500 being swamped for the next 90 minutes. Whomever thought that we wouldn’t be busy prior to the convention opening is just nuts. Why not come early, standing in line for 15 minutes or less then go on your merry way rather than take a chance of getting stuck in a line with all those poor souls who didn’t pay up front and at a lower rate?

We checked into the DoubleTree, swapped goodies (books, yarn and costuming coming my way – pantry supplies, nutella, chocolate and gummis going his), grabbed snacks from the Con Suite and I hit the bed.

After all – I had only been up since 0130. Not bad – internal time clock already starting to adjust…

Categories: Cons Tags:


August 17th, 2015 1 comment

Actually, it was a two USO day. After taking the train to Frankfurt early this morning and checking in at Lufthansa Rail-Fly I wandered to the USO. The hours changed several years ago as the number of service members stationed in Germany underwent a dramatic increase. Now open M-F 0700-1500, the hours pretty much cover the official arrival/departure times for service members and their families in transit. Imagine my surprise and delight to find it open at 0645. I was stopping to drop off 40 children’s books. (An aside – 35 more were added to the Heidelberg City Shelf on Saturday).

The flight from Frankfurt to Seattle was lovely. I was upstairs in a 474. We didn’t have small screaming/crying children or obnoxious adults. My seat-mate turned out to be an IT Systems manager for Lufthansa Systems with an area of expertise in GPS who lives and works in the Zurich area. So much for small worlds.

Arriving at Seattle – they have the Kiosks which means that my total transit time for immigration was 10 minutes which included the hike from the plane leaving plenty of opportunity to hang out at the baggage carousel for an extensive time period.

This was followed by a stop at the Seattle USO. I think the last time I came through Seattle was either 2011 or 2012 for a cruise and I don’t remember spending any significant time at the airport. This time I had over four hours between flights. The USO is amazing. For one thing – it is open 24 hours a day. There are great volunteers, food, lounge chairs in which one can sleep, a computer area, several other seating areas and a baggage holding area. The rest rooms have showers and real towels…..I managed to keep myself aware for several hours by drinking coffee and munching before heading through security to the Alaska airline gate.

Switching to Alaska Airlines for the short hop to Spokane, I was impressed. For a small airline, the service was great and friendly. Most of the local flights are prop planes with 22 rows or less of interior passenger seating which means essentially no overhead storage bins. They do plane side check of carry-ons.

I got to the hotel via shuttle after a kind fellow passenger made the call for me. There are draw backs to not having a stateside phone.

Book Count

1186+35=40= 1261 if my brain is working correctly.

Categories: Cons, Travel Tags:

Staff Chat

August 16th, 2015 Comments off

As one of the registration team for Sasquan I am part of the routine “staff chat” mailing list. It makes for interesting reading most days. Few if any flames, which is more than balanced by an exuberant excess of bad, bad puns. For a while it was all about carts.

In any case, reading the dozens of messages coming through was a nice break from packing. Yep – packing as in suitcase. It didn’t take all that long to pack a week’s worth of clothes considering that no matter the weather outside – the convention center will be colder than I like. Took a bit longer to pack up some knitting. Three projects, all WIP. One I should be able to finish in the airplane.

Then there is the “stuff” for various off-spring households in the U.S. I have clothing, books, spices and …. well stuff to pass along. Did I mention nutella, chocolate and gummi bears? Leaving tomorrow for Spokane via Seattle. The first flight will be comfortable Lufthansa. The second is a quick transfer via Alaska Airways. Smaller bag which will be a carryon for the second flight is all “stuff.” 1/2 of my regular suitcase is stuff… In return Noah is bringing me a few things which I don’t think will even fill the larger suitcase.

Wait! I am going to a Con! I am sure that I can find something to buy….

Categories: Cons Tags:

Ok, I voted

July 30th, 2015 Comments off

for the Hugos.

Hello? I don’t know where you live, but I haven’t ever lived anywhere that there is much of anything to vote for at the end of July.

Small things around home – like do I sit inside or out? Do I sit in front of the fan? Do I drink this nice cold glass of water or just pour it over my head? Important things to me but of no relevance to anyone not in my immediate vicinity or responsible for mopping up my mess.

The end of July marks the closing of the Hugo voting. For those of you who aren’t SciFi/Fantasy fans – these are the annual awards nominated and voted on by fans. Nothing to do with which books are promoted by publishers. No committee of experts deciding what book/story/graphic novel/bit of art is the best from the past year. There are other categories as well – fanzine, pro-zine, podcast, long and short forms (think TV episode & movies), as well as editors and some fan recognition awards.

Most years the nominations are about what would be expected, the voting is without controversy. At WorldCon you find out if your concept of great matches everyone else’s. Anyone who is a member of WorldCon (last year and current year) gets to vote. In recent years (say, from when eBooks became popular) those voting are also provided a link which allows downloading of a personal copy of the written material.  It isn’t actually a bad deal, provided the fiction is worth reading.

And there in lies the rub. For various reasons, this year’s nomination and voting process turned extremely ugly and political. There was a group which decided to “stuff the nominations” in order to have some less well know authors have a whack at spaceship for their mantle. In response some extremely misogynistic group got their friends together to stuff the nominations.

Two significant issues: the first is that sometimes not well know is because you just aren’t that good. Both excellent writing and some heavy duty self-promotion are required. Real world, way it goes. The second issue is that I am a liberal – I believe in the right of the totally idiotic to be able to write whatever they want.  I can chose to read it or not.

But I don’t want them to tell me what I “should” be reading. Or flame those who question or have characters in their fiction which don’t conform to someone’s 1700’s view of skin color and gender superiority.  And the solution, apparently, for the second group which really can’t write at all it is to establish one’s own publishing house. Outside the US of course since the IRS believe that electronic publishing generates income. Authors with income should pay taxes.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, marking my electronic ballot which was blessedly free of hanging chad but not of “no awards.”  Must be that I am old fashion, but an internationally recognized award means something to me. And that means quality is required. Not a statement of “I’m important and deserve it!” but writing that is interesting, gripping and carries you out of this world. This year, for the first time, I couldn’t get beyond the first couple of pages of most of the nominees before quitting in disgust.

Here’s hoping the children pack up and go home, leaving the adults to discuss minor things like plot, consistency in word building and spelling…..

Categories: Books & Tapes, Cons Tags:

Hugos and scene around

August 17th, 2014 Comments off

The Hugos


Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)


“Equoid” by Charles Stross (, 09-2013)


“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal ( /, 09-2013)


“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (, 02-2013)


Ok- and now that is out of the way. I spent a lot of the day restocking bookshelves, attending literary beers – Mary Turzillo; KaffeeKlatsches – Kate Elliott,  Michelle Sagara (West); and otherwise having a relaxing day.




more Quiddich

more Quiddich

Steampunk complete with striped socks

Steampunk complete with striped socks

The Iconic Costumers

The Iconic Costumers

Categories: Cons Tags:


August 16th, 2014 Comments off

or costumes or masquerades. That is what a lot of the day seemed to be about. However, you will get those tomorrow since Sunday is Hall Costume Day and it is more fun to batch the insanity in one place.

Rather, I am going to detour to talk about pants. For men, the styles haven’t changed much in decades or centuries. It is solely a matter of fabrics and textures, textiles. It is not a matter of length, blousing or tightness. Face it – doublets have been long gone. Instead the only challenge seems to be that of the younger make generation actually managing to keep their pants high enough to cover both essentials and underwear. Most adults don’t want to see sagging, boxer shorts or have a visual of naked buttocks skin burned into their mind. The thought of having a visual as persistent as that jingle which converts to an ear worm is enough to produce shudders.


And then there is women’s fashion. Pants that go to various lengths, change color, move zippers from front to side to back to more than one of the above. Men at least have the sense to place trouser zippers/buttons in a logical and useful place. Recently, apparently to better show off belly piercing, tattoos and make oversized guts more comfortable, there has been a change in the height of waistlines. Technically referred to as “low rise” many of these items feature 10-15 cm (4-6″ for those stuck on the English system) of height above the crotch of the garment. For comparison, hips are normally measured 9″ (~22cm) below the waist. Unless you are wearing clothing that is a size or more too small, there is a significant risk of clothing going south.  So here we have it – another clothing item designed to create equality  between men and women. And slide off the ass of both.

Can you tell I am not thrilled? What is worse? I found I had inadvertently purchased one of these evil pairs of trousers. Even more fun is that while I purchased my normal size, apparently these either run large or I have shrunk. The second is extremely unlikely so I will continue to grumble about the latter. It couldn’t possibly be my fault for purchasing clothing without trying it on. Not after having been able to do this from Jack Wolfskin for years.  Not accepting any responsibility here, not me. Must be the clothing.   Now, all you need to add to completely understand my joy is airline security. Belts aren’t worth wearing through airports and packing one would mean that you knew you needed a belt.

So there I am, in the middle of a Science Fiction convention surrounded by literally dozens and dozens of young men in jeans popping in and out of the gaming tent. They are wearing various appropriate to the Con T-Shirts. None of them are cool – their pants fit.  And there I am, having to wear my shirt untucked so as to not spend the entire day yanking at my trousers.


Categories: Books & Tapes, Cons, Knitting Tags:

Various Entertainments – WorldCon- LonCon3 – Day 2

August 15th, 2014 1 comment

Just assume that I spend time every day working Registration and I won’t bother to mention it again.

But I am also making time to attend a few panels, a KoffeeKlatsch or two and what are now referred to as Literary Beers. The first case involves daytime sit around a table with a limited number of people and an author. The second is the same, only usually in the afternoon and involves meeting in the fan hall (noisier) and with beer.

In the morning, I attended a fun discussion with CE Murphy and Suzanne MacLeod which focused on Urban Fantasy, how to avoid sparkling vampires and the challenges for authors with imprints, pseudonyms and branding. I was astonished that neither was booked out (we joined the tables) but perhaps it was the early hour.

There were exhibits –

Exhibit Costume

Exhibit Costume

Wizard of Pigeons - Megan Lindholm

Wizard of Pigeons – Megan Lindholm. One of the earliest real Urban Fantasy

Robin Hobbs - Wild Rain, Mad Ship & Dragon series

Robin Hobbs – Wild Rain, Mad Ship & Dragon series

John Clute's Study

John Clute’s Study

you can't call it Tardis - that name is copyrighted (and trademarked)

you can’t call it Tardis – that name is copyrighted (and trademarked)

Ok - this is what you were expecting to see

Ok – this is what you were expecting to see

and knitting in the afternoon

completely taking over the Fan Activities tent for a couple of hours

completely taking over the Fan Activities tent for a couple of hours

Knitters and Crafters

Knitters and Crafters


I also managed to snag a seat at Jon Courtney Grimwood’s Literary Beer table.  He is an interesting man, crossing the line between really intellectually written and mind-twisting science fiction and literature. As you might not be away – the official main stream newspaper reviewers detest genre and love “literary novels.” As a result, how your books are named and labeled affects sales, ordering and essentially your success.

I skipped the concert in favor of getting sleep.

Categories: Cons Tags:

Retro Hugos

August 14th, 2014 Comments off

For those of you who are not familiar with Science Fiction & Fandom, please bear with me (bare? oh yes there are always a few of those.) The first significant gathering of SciFi fans, friends, authors and other serious devotees of the genre occurred in 1939, New York City. Apparently they had so much fun, they decided to do it again. With the exception of a few war years, this convention – now named WorldCon – meets every year. This year is the 72nd WorldCon aka LonCon 3 meeting in London. In 1953 the Hugo Awards were instituted to recognize greatness in the field. From novels and short forms, authors and editors, the list of categories has grown over the years to include semi-pro and fans (fanzines) and now the extensive lists includes fiction, non-fiction (reference materials), publications, podcasting, long and short form action (TV & movies), art, editors…

Tonight the production team presented the Hugos for 1939 along with several of the expected “presented at the Con” awards.

Presented as a live radio program

Presented as a live radio program

I made it till almost 2200 and headed back to the hotel completely wiped having worked registration for a good chunk of the day. I ran into dozens of convention friends and managed to finish the first 1/4 of my knitted top and headed around to the back making progress there as well.

Categories: Cons Tags:


September 3rd, 2012 Comments off

At the end of every con – there are things left over. Some were purchased by the Con, others brought in, used and then donated.

The bid book sits up in Logistics with a page for each time (or group of items). Items that have a number of bids go to auction. Some of them are quite interesting –

1) 23 large rubbermaid like storage bins – five of which are hole free. The holes in the bottom are important when said bins are used to hold ice and drinks. By far easier to drain than dump over when you are a 30 gallon plus container of melted ice.

2) four label printers – used to print the clear labels for the badges

3) five refrigerators – normal, household size to be picked up at the storage locker in a couple of days

4) industrial size roll of saran wrap

5) paper cutter

6) white boards

7) 24″ TV with embedded DvD player

8) 41″ flat screen TV

9) 20 reams of paper

10) five easels…

anyway you get the idea.

In the past I have never bothered with the firesale. Not being local, there is little small enough that would be worth the hassle of trying to take it home. But here I have a daughter who just might need something. That was when I discovered all the interesting things on the above list.

Now, there was no way I was going to bid on a fridge. She has one, it works. The price ($50 for a $500 fridge) was a good deal but she doesn’t need a second (no place to put it).

Computer paper? Always can use computer paper. Easel? Why not – $5.

And, as it turns out, the TV was brought in by the lovely folks who ran the Teen Lounge. All the way from Omaha where it had become excess due to a larger TV entering the premiss. It had been demonstrably working for the last five days. Being more than glad to donate a few bucks to the cause – it is now on top of a table in #304. Turns out it is too big to stick into the bookcase, but cartoons look amazing.

(and apparently so are friends with cars…..)

Categories: Cons Tags:

The Hugos

September 2nd, 2012 Comments off

(plus the John W Campbell Award). Nominations closed end of March, voting the end of July (translates – these awards are recognition from the reading community, not from the publishing community).

Like many other awards ceremonies – the Hugos are made/broken by the MC. Since this evening it was John Scalzi complete with wit and words the crowd was spared the boredom of the Academy Awards.

Best Novel: Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor)

Best Novella: “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s, September/October 2011)

Best Novelette: “Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders (

Best Short Story: “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2011). He is also one of the nicest authors to grace the Kaffeeklatsch tables. Not only was he willing to add people to his group, but spent a significant amount of time helping the Chinese speaking and English speaking attendees understand each others points.

Best Related Work: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)

Best Graphic Story: Digger by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press) (Go there if wombats appeal). Huh, you say? Web based comic….

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): Game of Thrones (Season 1), created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss; written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, and George R. R. Martin; directed by Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Tim van Patten, and Alan Taylor (HBO) (and we are surprised because?)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): “The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who), written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales) – it is always going to be one of the Dr Who stories….

Best Editor (Short Form): Sheila Williams

Best Editor (Long Form): Betsy Wollheim

Best Professional Artist: John Picacio

Best Semiprozine: Locus edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.

Best Fanzine: SF Signal edited by John DeNardo

Best Fan Writer: Jim C. Hines

Best Fan Artist: Maurine Starkey

Best Fancast: SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente

The John W. Campbell Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2010 or 2011, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award): E. Lily Yu

I didn’t make it – something about food seemed to be really important as well as having spent part of the afternoon just wandering around downtown. It just seemed like I needed to get out, see some sunshine, get away from the desk….

Honestly, I also needed beads for a shawl and the store is only 4 blocks from the Condo. Since it closed at 1700 and wouldn’t be opening again till Tues, seemed like the thing to do.

Categories: Cons Tags:

Didn’t go

September 1st, 2012 Comments off

to the Masquerade, I just was too tired.

empty streets early in the morning

Starting at the usual time – I felt like

the wheels of the bus go round and round

which might be the Chicago equivalent of the “Tiny Bang Story” game.

And, if you wanted a complete bit of insanity – there was this –

populated by kids of all ages

and continually under revision.

little balls – no water, no Aeslin mice

The end result of which was by the time I was done at 1930, I was done. The thought of staying for the Masquerade just was not appealing. By far better was the thought of getting a real meal by stopping somewhere along the walk back to Ms Sopranos place.

Categories: Cons Tags:


August 31st, 2012 Comments off

In case you were wondering where in Chicago

but in reality it is more like this early in the morning

It should not surprise you to know that there are actually people who read the program. They walk up to the desk at 0700.

before set up

“I know that you are not set up or open yet, but can I have my badge?”

Now, if they were a volunteer I could understand it. Or perhaps on a panel, making a presentation, selling something in the dealers’ room. But for the rest of the world – nothing but nothing starts before 0900. The only people around at 0700 are those of us who have staggered by Caribou Coffee, or Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts for a caffeine fix. The sole excepts are those still awake from the night before which essentially means gamers.

and the occasional person in costume, just because

but she already has her badge

Categories: Cons Tags:


August 30th, 2012 1 comment

as it turns out is about my favorite area to work.

Especially this year, we have the new registrations set up on one counter and the badge pickup on another. Those that paid ahead of time just don’t have to wait forever; and not feeling like dealing with the computers – for yesterday and today I have been happily handing out badges.

By tomorrow afternoon that is going to be just too boring and I will flip over to the new registrations.

Meanwhile – we have consolidated 10 boxes of badges down to 3 which are not completely full. Equivalent to handing out about 3500 worth of badges actually prior to the official Con opening at 500 yesterday.

It was dark when I hiked home last night after dealing with the usual crew who shows up after we are shut down (hello, 2000 is really pretty generous) and will be heading back early in the morning.

Made more progress on the shawl – now just have to get an @Con knitting group meet up set.

TransAtlantic – a bit on the red side

Categories: Cons Tags:

World Con 70

August 29th, 2012 2 comments

In case you probably hadn’t guessed – I spent most of the day working the reg desk. Since the Con (Chicon aka World Con 70) doesn’t officially open till tomorrow the choice was easy – put in volunteer hours or wander around the city in a daze.

Did I mention that it is also quite hot for someone used to the mild climate of Heidelberg? Anyway – other than the hassle with one guy who didn’t want to produce an ID… (detour here. I am retired military. I travel extensively. I simply don’t get someone with a problem in producing a picture ID. It is to make sure that he gets his Con Badge. Not someone elses’ and not someone else getting his. This guy is not off the grid – he does have a driver’s license and credit card – and a passport. I am not particularly infringing on his rights. He doesn’t have to show an ID. I also don’t have to hand over a badge to someone who I can’t identify. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Does it say somewhere that you can travel incognito and expect everyone to take your word?  And yes, he does have major hassles with hotels and the airlines.)  … all the people have been quite nice.

“Can I see something with a picture?” Oh, sure. Did you want something with a name as well?

Would be nice.

Now, in all day and dozens of people – no one pulled out their iPhone to show me a picture of themselves. Lots wanted to provide me a badge number. The badges are predone and in alphabetical order. With 5K + of members, getting their number right randomly is possible but not probable.

Meanwhile -I will get you a pix tomorrow, but making good progress on my Transatlantic Shawl, all ready being over 100 gms into it.

And Chicago has noodle shops!

Categories: Cons Tags:

Another 0400 morning

August 20th, 2011 3 comments

I am beginning to suspect that the time zone does not matter. I wake up at 0400.

In California, I wrote off the early awakening to being off on time zones. On the cruise, I happily blamed my back pain. Once back in Germany – well obviously my sleep disruption was a result of changing 9 hours of time zones again. Stopping in New York, obviously, I had no clue where I was or what was going on.

But here I am in Reno, once again wide awake at 0400 in the morning which happens to be significantly dark. Since we have free WiFi here at the Peppermill it seemed a good time to sort out a few photos and to let all of you know that I have not completely lost it (well mostly, but not completely…..)

Which means I have started to clear out the backlog of Alaska photos.

Today was spent running Kaffee Klatsches, Miriam spent the day being the coffee girl complete with tray and I completely collapsed at 2030, missing the Hugos and all the parties. The party girl managed to get to most of them, reported outcomes and got back while the buses were still running……

Categories: Cons Tags:

Masquerade – Renovation

August 19th, 2011 4 comments

One of the key events at any Science-Fiction/Fantasy Convention is always the Costume Competition – aka – The Masquerade. Renovation’s hosted by the Folgio’s (Girl Genius for those of you who don’t recognize the names).

and yes, there is a definite resemblance to the characters

and yes, there is a definite resemblance to the comic characters

Contestants compete at Novices (really new at this and haven’t won any significant awards), Journeyman (done it before and done ok), and Master (the really scary people). Occasionally there will be an entry in the “Exhibition Only” category – meaning not in competition either because someone doesn’t want to be judged or they have entered the costume somewhere else (oh, yes, you can’t enter the same costume over and over again at different Cons. And trust me, someone will know). Judging is both on presentation (including how the costume appears from the audience) and workmanship (exactly what you would expect – details and finishing do count – the days of 2 hour glue-gun costumes are no more).

Prior to the start there were a number of incredibly funny short flicks – Haunted Icon among them. A spoof of all the idol shows – you can see them on You Tube here – Part One and Part Two.

Then there are the costumes (I have included only some)-

After the stage presentations there is a break while the workmanship judges do their thing. Which means something to keep the audience entertained – in this case a Con version of the British venerable radio program “Just a Minute.” A contestant is required to speak extemporaneously on a topic without repetition, pause, hesitation or wandering off-topic for one minute. The other contestants may challenge infractions. Successful challenges win points which can also be gained from being the speaker at the end of the 60 seconds or being incorrectly challenged. Let me just leave it with – you haven’t heard anything till you hear Seanan McGuire head into a discussion on deadly viruses, the worst thing about steampunk or call her mother up on stage to resolve a challenge when someone could not believe she wasn’t off topic.

Maus and I only made it through the first two rounds as we were exhausted. This also means we don’t know who won…..

Categories: Cons Tags:


August 18th, 2011 2 comments

According to the T-shirts at the convention booths – What happens when Goths meet brown?

You get Steampunk. The genre has gone from nothing to a major force in the Sci-Fi world even since World Con last year. Costumes abound, dances and tea dances are taking up a lot of time and mad scientists abound –

various mechanical steam helpers

various mechanical steam helpers

and the workshop

and the workshop


The craze includes pseudo-Victorian costuming. It is a huge improvement over the Goth/Fairy attire of a few years ago. Black is worn, yes, but there is a wide range of palates as well. Corsets are worn, but they are not all black and dripping with pseudo gore (at least I hope the gore is faked). Bondage is out, aviator goggles and bowler hats are in.

And the amount of flesh hanging out exposed is significantly reduced.

The afternoon session included teaching

the instructors

the instructors

(most dances most strongly resembled Contra-dancing) and were attended by a wide range of participants.

dad and daughter

dad and daughter

not all were so young

not all were so young

I think a large part of the appeal is that it is more modern than Renfaire garb while leaving people free to change personas on a whim. The style lends itself easily to the not so young crowd (this particular group of Con goers has been steadily aging). The other thing that is quite appealing is that no one can judge what is “out of period.” Short of bikinis and carrying a magic fairy wand, just about anything goes.

Maus and I are moderately recovered from whatever food poisoning one of the fast food shops managed to contribute to our non-well being and we have been putting in time on Registration as well as Kaffee Klatsches. It is scary – I don’t recognize many of the authors anymore!

Categories: Cons Tags:

Heading into Reno

August 17th, 2011 Comments off

Given my tendency to try and save money while traveling (ok, I could save a lot more money if I did not go anywhere at all…..) it should not surprise you to learn that by the time I finally made the reservations for Reno the flight choices were what you might call interesting.

A round trip from New York to Reno and back – direct and no changes was more than $600/per person more expensive than taking a strange route (LGA to MPLS to Reno on the way out and Reno to Salt Lake City to JFK via red eye on the way back). The cost of the second run also included the hotel as a package; go figure. Putting everything we needed to be checked in one bag (when did US airlines start wanting to stuff the cabins and keep the holds empty anyway?) we were off.

Ignoring all the offers to delay, forget and otherwise get airline vouchers (no cash was offered)

Reno is desert

Desert surrounding the city

downtown - which we will never see

downtown - which we will never see

cool what?

cool what?

we made it to Reno on time and were given the opportunity to wait 45 mintes for luggage and another 35 for the hotel shuttle. Seemed like a good 1/3 of the plane was Con goers.

We will catch the shuttle bus pick up our badges and see about food before hitting the dealers room.

Categories: Cons Tags:

Anticipation – Hugos

August 9th, 2009 Comments off

Sunday night is the traditional Hugo Awards night.

This year I really thought about it, then didn’t go. Yesterday and today I spent running various Kaffee Klatsches in rooms just about as far from the sign up table as it was possible to get. In rooms where there was no coffee. Facing crowds of people who kept giving me this blank look when I asked if they were signed up.

I am not stupid, I was sitting there yesterday, I know that I told them when and how to sign up. Sheesh! I am sure that it would occur to most people that many authors are popular. Popular enough that lots want to sit down and chat. That is why we run sign-ups and only let the first 10 on the list into the room.

Anyway, being the door dragon lets me see a lot of different authors without being in the way. I do not presume personal relationships with authors because I read their works or have met them before.

If you have not heard of Pat Cadigan (a Cyberpunk original), she is a lovely person. I had a whole long list of others that I was going to reference, but just run out of energy. Much better to have the note up than not.

Categories: Cons Tags:

Anticipation 4 (Masquerade)

August 8th, 2009 Comments off

One must maintain a sense of humor.

May I put in a plug for Neil Gaiman? Not only is he a fantastic writer but he is a sterling human being. The official Guest of Honor for this convention, he signed on long ago. He credits his minder (and she is wonderful) but it takes a mensch to faultlessly make all panels, signings, and presentations even when exhausted. He even took time one evening to have sushi with the teens. (yes, Ms Maus was there and thrilled). Believe me when I note that several of the well less important authors refuse to have anything to do with those under age.

In contrast, the Master of Ceremonies – Julie Czerneda – managed to cancel on everything except for her performance at the Masquerade. I am afraid I missed the name of the gentleman who provided the French half of the announcement for which I am truly sorry. He was lovely and extremely funny.

If you want photos from the Masquerade – this is the link to the low resolution version and has some great pictures.

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Anticipation – 3

August 7th, 2009 Comments off

AKA Ravelers Unite

just a few knitters

just a few knitters

and of course, I misplaced the list of who was present. Functioning on little to no sleep.

But see, I really do leave the registration desk every once in a while.

Categories: Cons Tags:

Anticipation – 2

August 6th, 2009 Comments off
Delta Centre Ville

Delta Centre Ville

The day went by like a blur. Spent almost the whole thing working registration. This is just the short break before the parties.

What parties? Those that start somewhere after 2100 and end by dawn at any World Con. I like the arches and had not even take the camera with me today.

Categories: Cons Tags:

Anticipation – 1

August 5th, 2009 Comments off
sunshining through

sunshining through

The convention center is a multicolor riot of color just a few blocks from our hotel.

Registration, where I spent most of the day along with the two girls hit periods of quiet. Final numbers for the Con should be around 5,000 with most expected to check in tomorrow and Friday.

As it turned out, the reg system was the same as we used at LACON, so the girls went right to work.

Ms Soprano

Ms Soprano

Ms Maus

Ms Maus

with the two of them probably helping more people than most of the other stations combined. Could also be their smiles and the fact that they are not old…..

Other than the Reno 2011 bid party, there wasn’t much of anything scheduled for this evening. I just headed back to the hotel, knit for a short while and went to sleep early feeling rather righteous from having spent 40 minutes on the treadmill this morning.


Lt Leary series – David Drake – Book 3. Valor’s Trial – Tany Huff….

Categories: Books & Tapes, Cons Tags:

Ravelry meet up

August 8th, 2008 Comments off

Ducking out of the Kaffee Klatches – I skittered up stairs to the Ravelry meet up. Socks seemed to be the main portable knitting, but there were crocheters there as well as the odd scarf here and there. After lspeaking with  David Levine in a Kaffee Klatsch, I sat there listening to one woman talk about going to Germany this fall for the Christmas Markets. It was not too hard to figure out that this must be Kate Yule. Now I owe them the market list as soon as it is published. (and go read Bento, it is fun).

It was a fairly long day. Attempting to get to several of the parties – it turns out that the hotel has the lovely kind of elevators that require a key card to get to floor 22 necessitating the formation of a really long queue in the lobby. Once upstairs, it was so packed as to be not worth it.

Categories: Books & Tapes, Cons Tags:


August 7th, 2008 Comments off

Denvention Day 2 – Thursday: Hall costumes, Bids for 2010 and working the Kaffee Klatsches. And then there are the costumes on display

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Denvention – Day 1

August 6th, 2008 Comments off

we scattered to different areas to help out, taking time at the end of the day to go to the opening ceremonies. Wil McCarthy did not look at ease while the representative of last years World Con in Japan was so decked out that you could hardly see him for the clothing.

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August 5th, 2008 Comments off

Heidelberg -> Frankurt -> Philadelphia -> Denver
traveling with three teens, my MP3 player and knitting.

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